Pioli: “It wasn’t an easy match and it was a difficult win, Origi is a complete striker and I’m happy for him, Brahim has quality, it is a process for CDK”

Stefano Pioli and Fikayo Tomori celebrating at the end of Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Stefano Pioli felt Milan could’ve done better in the second half against Monza despite winning 4-1, and discussed the injuries of Dest and Brahim.

After nearly a full week since the last match, Milan returned to San Siro this evening to take on Monza of Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi.

Coach Pioli did some rotation, starting Pierre Kalulu, Sandro Tonali, Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud on the bench, going with an attack of Junior Messias, Brahim Díaz, Ante Rebić and Divock Origi.

It took the Rossoneri 16 minutes to get the first goal: Ciprian Tătăruşanu’s long pass found Brahim in the middle of the pitch, and the Spaniard ran the entire half by himself, beating several Monza players and then goalkeeper Michele Di Gregorio in a brilliant effort. In the 41′ minute, Díaz found the net again, this time after an excellent turn on the Monza defender following an assist from Origi.

The Belgian striker, who started for the first time, also finally got his goal this Saturday as in the 66′ minute, Messias passed him the ball and Origi made space for himself outside the box and struck the ball with accuracy and power to the back of the net. Filippo Ranocchia scored for Monza from a free kick in the 70′ minute, but Tommaso Pobega, Theo Hernández and Leão combined in the 84′ minute for the final goal of the evening, with Rafael making it 4-1 at the end of the 90 minutes.

It’s an important win for Milan, who now have a crucial Champions League match coming on Tuesday. The only downside was having to sub out Sergiño Dest and Brahim due to injuries.

The squad celebrating during Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

“It was a difficult win, we knew Monza played good football and could’ve controlled it better in the second half by making them run a little more, but it went well and we’ll take the points,” Pioli told DAZN at the end of the match at San Siro.

On the match: “The team started strong, ran very few risks and created a lot of chances. All that is positive, other than a few errors that meant we didn’t control the match as much as we could’ve done.”

On Brahim Díaz: “He certainly prefers the center-right position and enjoys playing there. When he’s in good shape, you can tell, he has these sharp little legs that make him really travel. He had this muscular problem, I hope for him and Dest it is nothing serious, especially with so many matches coming up.”

Brahim Díaz celebrating during Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

On De Ketelaere: “Let us not forget that this is Brahim’s third year with us and Charles has only been here for a few months. I had intended to only play him for 15 minutes this evening, but we had to rush it because of that injury. He has the quality, he just needs to believe in himself to really bring that potential out. He’s an intelligent guy, he knows how good he is, but it is a process and will require some time with good and not so good performances to get there.”

On Messias: “He played down the entire flank, he sacrificed a lot with quantity and quality. He had a very good match.”

Charles De Ketelaere during Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

On failing to keep a clean sheet again: “There were a few distractions, today Ranocchia scored a wonderful free kick, but the important thing is to keep scoring many goals. The more we attack, we are going to take some risks at the back, but it is worth it.”

On the changes to the line-up: “You like the term squad rotation, but I don’t, because my players know I have faith in all of them and I have a lot of starters. If we didn’t have so many injuries, I would’ve rotated a lot more, as I have a large group of players with a lot of quality and determination, so everyone is ready to contribute. I fielded a strong team, there were other strong players on the bench and that will be the case on Tuesday as well.”

Aster Vranckx, Pierre Kalulu, Matteo Gabbia, Sandro Tonali, Rade Krunić and Junior Messias celebrating at the end of Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

Speaking to MilanTV, Pioli said: “It wasn’t an easy game: we faced a team that was aggressive without the ball but that also tried to cause problems with it. We had to work hard and we did so with the usual team spirit and hunger, knowing that we had the individual quality to be able to go on and win the game with the chances that we created.”

On the attitude: “We have certain characteristics that helped us score early. There are two key aspects: a good mentality that helps you to grow into it and get a hold of a game, and then, it changes the game tactically because your opponents, rather than sitting deep, have to take more risks and we have a lot of players who can cause problems on the counter. It’s our aim. I liked seeing my team play with personality. They were calm too; they didn’t force it. I liked it less in the second half when we needed to control possession, because we could’ve kept hold of the ball; they were outnumbered in midfield so we should’ve controlled possession a bit better. This would’ve given us a better hold on the game. Sometimes, we also need to slow the tempo, control the game and recover in possession. When we don’t have the ball, we have to run hard and expend a lot of energy, so when we had the ball, especially with that scoreline, we could’ve managed it better but it’s another chance to grow and to assess where we’re at.”

Ismaël Bennacer during Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

On Brahim Díaz and the competition for the trequartista: “If you play for a top club, and Milan is a top club, you need to accept that there’s competition and you need to give your all to convince the coach that you’re better than your teammate; this should drive you. That’s how you should look at it. You shouldn’t get disheartened when you’re not starting. You shouldn’t rest on our laurels but continue to work hard with your teammates because a team improves when individuals improve. This should be an aim for all the players.”

On the injuries of Brahim and Dest: “It seems like it’s just fatigue for both and Dest. Fingers crossed, it’s not too bad because we have a big game on Tuesday.”

Divock Origi celebrating during Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

On Origi: “I think Divock is a great striker. He’s a complete forward because he can do it all. We really missed him because Oli had to play a lot, which is tiring. He’s a complete striker: he moves well, he can drift wide or get in behind, and he’s also got the physicality to hold the ball up and win aerial duels. He’s a great player. We need these options with all the games that we have and every game matters right up to the end. It will really contribute to our standings in the Champions League and Serie A. We won it by 2 points last season and that’s how we should look at it. I’m really happy with his performance and I’m happy for him because he struggled with not being able to go out there and show what he can do and help the team because he arrived with an injury that he struggled to recover from. I’m happy for him and his performance will give us all more enthusiasm and hunger to do well.”

On Tătăruşanu’s assist for Brahim and Messias’s defensive work: “When teams man-mark like that, the goalkeeper is the only player who has time and space on the ball. Tata did well today: he played it out from the back when he could to break the lines and he did that well. He cleared his lines when he had to. These are things that we try out and when they come off, it means we’ve prepared well and that we’re aware of what our opponents can do. We made changes in defense today. Messias patrolled the wing against a side that run hard and he was amazing. He’s a hard-working player and he makes sacrifices for the team, so I’m really pleased with how he played, and he contributed in attack as well.”

Junior Messias during Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

The coach also held a post-match press conference: “I’m satisfied with the performance, but it was not an easy game; we did well defensively, but we can do better. We scored 4 goals against an opponent who had conceded only 1 in the last 4 games. As for the injuries, it seems like minor stuff for Dest and Brahim; I hope that’s the case because we have important games like Tuesday’s in Zagreb ahead.”

The mission for Brahim Díaz and De Ketelaere?
“I am here to help my players. Brahim is doing what he is doing because he has quality and has pride. We have to respect the time of growth and settling-in times; of course Charles was disappointed but it was not easy to score on that occasion. It’s normal he is a little down in the dumps, but he has everything that we expected; he has to continue as he is doing.”

Rafael Leão and Theo Hernández celebrating during Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

One positive and one negative thing about this evening?
“We started like an attentive team, with personality, without forcing it, hitting Monza where we knew we could find them. In the second half we had to move the ball around better and control the game better.”

Why didn’t Thiaw enter?
“I made the choice that I thought was best for the team.”

Stefano Pioli celebrating at the end of Milan-Monza at Stadio San Siro on October 22, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Do Monza resemble Dinamo Zagreb?
“They are different. Dinamo Zagreb attack with fewer players but when they do – they do it well. They have never lost at home so it will be difficult.”

Is Origi a striker more suited than Giroud to the way you play?
“I am delighted to have both of them. I’m delighted for Divock, he suffered a lot. I hope to have both of them available, they are very strong strikers. I have many strong players and there is the right spirit. Divock has characteristics to counter, while Giroud is a different player.”

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